The Los Angeles Lakers fell back below .500 after coming up short in their comeback attempt against the Miami Heat on Sunday. This was despite another strong outing from LeBron James as well as Russell Westbrook putting forth one of his most efficient offensive outings.
Westbrook shot 9-of-15 from the field and hit 6-of-8 from the free-throw line, finishing with 24 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists while again turning the ball over just three times. This was the first time this month Westbrook shot better than 50% from the field and his ninth consecutive game with three or fewer turnovers since the infamous nine-turnover outing in the Lakers’ first game of 2022.
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel has continued to stand behind Westbrook through his issues this season and wants his point guard to continue to attack the basket as he has been.
“We want to continue to encourage him to attack the basket as much as possible and he makes great decisions when he gets there whether he has the finish or he has second-side threes,” Vogel said.
“I think he found several shooters on 3-point shots … but also was efficient finishing at the rim and that’s what we want for Russ to continue to attack, and in terms of the comeback, he’s one of the great competitors in the game. So the competitive spirit showed up during that comeback.”
Indeed Westbrook was a big component of the Lakers’ comeback run that came up just short in Miami and he has responded well since being benched late in the Lakers’ loss to the Indiana Pacers. His backcourt mate Avery Bradley also praised Westbrook for his professionalism and pushing through everything that has happened this season.
“I think Russ is a professional. Whatever comes his way, I think he’s prepared for it,” Bradley added. “He went through that moment and responded the next game and he’s going to continue to do that. He’s a competitor. So I know he’s going to go out and compete every single game. It’s our job to make sure that we continue to keep him confident because he can bring so much to this team and he’s been doing it and like I said, we just all bring it more consistently and we can win games.”
There are undoubtedly positives that Westbrook brings to this team, but a ton of attention has been paid to his negative aspects. Regardless of anything that has happened, the Lakers continually stand behind their point guard and believe he will come through in the end.
Westbrook believes road trip will be good ‘bonding’ experience for Lakers
The Lakers are in the midst of their longest road trip of the season and Westbrook believes this could be exactly what the team needs to turn the season around.
“But it’s a big trip for us, a good bonding and togetherness trip for our group to find ways to be able to come together and come up with some wins and create some rhythm, some confidence in our group that we can be the team that we all know we should be.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!